Writing Your obituary

Included in the psychosocial aspects of end of life issues is the notification of family, friends, and the larger community of the death of a person. Beyond the personal contact and widening pattern from the immediate family to others, notification also takes place in newspapers in the obituary section.If you have read such notices, you saw that some were too brief to give justice to the life of the deceased person, perhaps because someone had to do it in a hurry to get it in on time or was too upset, or did not have enough background on the person. It is wise to draft your own obituary in advance and give copies to the appropriate person(s) to have ready.Your task is to write your personal obituary for your local hometown paper. Give thought to how you will appear in print after you are gone for family and progeny to keep and for the community to recognize you. It is to be written for now/today, not in the future.There are some guidelines for doing this for a newspaper. The information should be word-processed rather then hand written. In the upper left corner provide the name of a contact (usually a close family member) who can verify information and provide more details about the death if needed. (Include phone number, although not necessary to include for this assignment.) The first paragraph is a straightforward summary of facts such as name, occupation, age and date of death. Often the cause of death is noted as well.The next paragraph or two should give highlights and major activities of your life such as schools attended, education, work history, volunteerism, military, professional, government or organizing activities, sports, little league coach and others. Include any special positions or offices you held as well as any activities or awards in high school sports or academics.Next, include survivors/family, and geographic locations if not too lengthy. Then, be clear about any funeral or memorial services to be held with appropriate location and time information.File your finished obituary with your will and give copies to your attorney and appropriate family members. You may want copies sent (upon your death) to schools, organizations, or professional publications. Make this obituary yours, do not model on some brief write-up you see in a major paper with many such notices. Do it as a local project for the place/community who would know you best. In such a transient era, you may have lived only a year or two in a new location because of a job. The finished product is to be 1 page.Lastly, review and update your obituary every few years for any changes and updates in location, job, family members, and others. As always, provide a quality response to at least one peer.

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